This Family Home is Akin to a French Château


Approaching Bob and Johnnie Kay Wolf’s hilltop home feels akin to arriving at a château on the edge of a lovely French village. The front gate, adorned with a pair of gas lanterns, opens to reveal an expertly manicured courtyard leading to the couple’s picturesque abode. The Wolfs fell in love with the clean lines of modernism, but also adored the timeless beauty of classical design elements. They looked to Chris Reebals, president of Christopher Architecture & Interiors, to blend their sensibilities into one seamless design.


“When it came to the final decision on an architectural style, Bob’s comment to me was ‘I am an orthopedic surgeon. You are an architect. I’ll stick with what I do well and let you do your thing—so, design,’” Chris says. And so he did. Chris and his team landed on a design that incorporated elements of modernism with a charming French manor, featuring high-pitched roofs, a central tower made of windows, sprawling vistas, courtyards, stucco finishes, and dormers that penetrate the eaves. The team paid extra attention to the materials used in bringing the vision to life, avoiding manufactured materials that have become a popular architectural trend. “In the French countryside, you will notice a fierce commitment to (natural) material usage in architecture,” Chris says. “Stone, slate, wood, copper—all used in the Wolfs’ home because we understand that in 20, 50, 100 years, these materials won’t look the same as when they were installed. In many respects they will look better.”


This commitment to timeless quality continues with the interiors of the home. Johnnie Kay worked with Joanna Goodman, director of interiors at Christopher Architecture & Interiors, to create the home she’d been dreaming of. “I wanted it to be light and airy with a comfortable feel,” Johnnie Kay says. “My last house was very formal with lots of crown molding, and I just wanted this home to be relaxed with clean lines.” Joanna helped create an interior that compiles an array of hand-selected natural materials, neutral color palettes, and furnishings appropriate for a family with two teenage sons and a 5-year-old daughter.

The family room, one of Johnnie Kay’s favorite spots, is open and inviting. White couches complement the stained pecky cypress along the walls, while generous natural lighting, neutral tones, and high ceilings work together to create a calm, relaxing atmosphere. “We watch movies, hang out, and build fires in the wintertime,” Johnnie Kay shares. “It’s just a great place for the family to be together.” And since she loves having the children and their friends around, Johnnie Kay knew that she would need to factor that into certain design decisions. That meant choosing a slightly darker gray paint for multiple rooms to hide the marks incurred by boys being boys. In the kitchen, she skipped white marble in favor of attractive granite countertops, and opted for a gray stain instead of paint for lower kitchen cabinets to make them more durable for daily wear and tear. Placing the microwave in the side of a custom kitchen island makes it accessible to the whole family.

To keep the new home from feeling like a showroom, the décor is a mix of furniture, artwork, and accessories from the family’s previous home along with new, carefully curated pieces. “I never want a space to look store bought, but rather that it has evolved over time,” Joanna says. The formal dining room is anchored by the family’s wood dining set that, along with the dark framing on the windows, provides a contrast with the light wall color, giving the space a warm and cozy feel that encourages guests to linger. From hosting dinners for church friends to pool parties for tennis buddies and family barbecues, this home is a favorite get-together spot and has no shortage of guests. Fortunately, the Wolfs’ hospitality is as timeless and enduring as the home itself.

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